「共にゆく人」 (Tomoni yuku hito)
“Those Who Follow”
You might be forgiven for thinking that Fumetsu no Anata e is a pretty tragic piece of work. After all it’s delivered two big child death set pieces in the first five episodes, both of which ended in materially the same way (in at least one sense). And to be honest you wouldn’t be totally wrong – this series isn’t exactly sunshine and skittles to be sure. The contrast between permanence and impermanence is very much at the heart of this story, and that’s a subject inherently laden with melancholy. But it ain’t all tears and requiems either (much like existence itself).
I would probably find myself in the minority in thinking that this arc finale isn’t on a par with the first episode, because both of them seem to be equally beloved by manga fans. My reasoning is pretty simple – what made the story of the boy on the ice so remarkable was how sparingly it was told. The sadness came from the moment, and no effort was expended to sell it. It wasn’t needed. That restraint was missing here, as March’s final moments and their aftermath were presented with an abundance of conventional dramatic flourishes. The first was exceptional and elegantly understated – this was just a well-presented piece of drama.
That said, well-presented it was. And I think quite refreshing in the sense that it tells us that To Your Eternity doesn’t have the usual guard rails you’d expect in anime these days. That sense of uncertainty is not only welcome, but I think essential to the series’ formula for success. As I’ve noted, the less conventional Fumetsu is the better it works, and this lack of plot armor is a pretty unusual element. This arc had an unconventional ending presented in very classical fashion. Which is certainly just fine – the substance is there to be sure.
March’s refusal to let Parona carve off a piece of Oniguma to offer as proof to the villagers that it was dead was interesting. But I found her willingness to abide by March’s wishes even more so. If she’s known the truth of Fushi’s existence she wouldn’t have worried about that of course, but Parona is risking a lot by making this decision. Her whole plan is full of risk of course, though certainly the only option realistically available to her apart from playing along with Hayase and remaining in Yanome (which is not really an option at all).
Honestly, with the constant reminders about March’s obsession with growing up her death was certainly foreshadowed if you believe in flags. It was a spur of the moment decision, one which may or may not have been correct – an adult like Parona would certainly have a better chance of surviving an arrow wound than a young child. The most effecting part of this sequence for me was Parona, in the moments before the arrow, desperately trying to hold things together as it became clear from events just on the edge of shot that they were quickly falling apart. This was a very interesting bit of filmmaking and really heightened the dramatic tension of the moment.
Fushi in Oniguma form is enough of a force to allow escape from Yanome, though the damage has been done of course. The key event here is not March’s death, but Fushi stopping Parona from joining her (implied to be prodded by March). This would have been pretty disrespectful of March’s last act of sacrifice, for starters. But Parona obviously had a task to fulfill, and her life wasn’t hers to throw away in that moment. Fushi is still a relatively minor narrative force (and a totally silent one), but it’s clear he’s growing into his new existence and starting to understand how human emotions are driven.
Yanome isn’t giving up on immortality of course, and Parona passed on a chance to finish off Hayase (as opposed to herself). But the story moves on, with Fushi in the company of someone you might have assumed to be a minor figure – Pioran (Aikawa Rikako), the fake shaman and fellow prisoner. And while his education is certainly a core facet of the story, this is no gently flowing river of contemplation and fleeting relationships on the road. Life, even in this ethereal form, is something that must be treated as precious and protected at all times else it be taken from you.
「共にゆく人」 (Tomoni yuku hito)
“Those Who Follow”
The contrast between permanence and impermanence is very much at the heart of this story, and that’s a subject inherently laden with melancholy.
I’m now skipping the spoilery opening (what a dumb idea to include crucial scenes of the story), but IIRC it has a scene of March lying on the floor and Parona in grief IIRC. Which is why March was the first on my list of ppl to die next. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the way it happened didn’t hit me right in the feels.
Fushi is clearly able to feel the emotions of the spirits that are about to “flow into the vessel”.